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ANALYSIS

NBL22 Awards Watch - Volume 7

Written for NBL.com.au by Peter Hooley

With the rest of the NBL schedule released, the race is on. Who finishes on top of the ladder? Who makes the top four? And who goes home with some of the biggest awards of the year?

Let’s see where it all stands ahead of Round 16.

 

Most Valuable Player

The more things change, the more they stay the same.

Freak – noun – a thing, personanimal, or event that is extremely unusual or unlikely, and not like any other of its type:

See. Bryce Cotton

Last week, I tweeted how if any one of Jo Lual-Acuil, Jaylen Adams or Mitch Creek want to be the MVP, then they’ll have to rip it out of Bryce Cotton’s hands. He is greatness personified. Bryce Cotton doesn’t just love the big moment, he is the big moment. Time after time, when the game is there to be taken over and won, Cotton steps up and delivers.

The NBL’s leading scorer has often fallen victim to his own expectation of greatness. Cotton is not only leading the charge once again, but he’s on track to have a career year for the Wildcats.

There are plenty of games left in NBL22, and the others who have had their named mentioned for MVP are still in with a chance to win it.

Jaylen Adams has been on a tear for the Sydney Kings, and Lual-Acuil continues to put up big numbers every night. However, with the level that Cotton is playing at, someone is going to have to go and snatch that trophy from him. 

  1. Bryce Cotton
  2. Jo Lual-Acuil
  3. Jaylen Adams
  4. Mitch Creek
  5. Vic Law

 

Best Defensive Player

With the Sydney Kings absolutely flying, they are a force to be reckoned with down the stretch of the season. A big reason why for the Kings, is the impact of Xavier Cooks on the defensive end.

His length, combined with his athleticism, makes him a monster on the defensive end. He wont always guard the best player on the opposition, but he will impact every single possession that he is on the floor. His ability to read the game off the ball is one of the best in the league, and when you combine that with his shot blocking, Cooks is the X-factor for the Kings.

He ranks fourth in the league for blocks per game, but really his impact is so much more. The Kings have weapons everywhere on their roster, so a lot of their success will come down to Cooks efforts.

His game has gone from strength to strength, and if you’re a fan of the purple & gold, then make sure you check him out in person in NBL22. I have a feeling he won’t be hanging around for much longer.

  1. Matthew Dellavedova
  2. Shea Ili
  3. Xavier Cooks
  4. Zhou Qi
  5. Jo Lual-Acuil

 

Most Improved Player

After a slow start this season, Jack McVeigh has found his groove over the last few weeks, and that has been a big reason why the Jackjumpers just continue to find a way to win.

Everyone knew that McVeigh had the ability to score the ball, and was often seen as a momentum shifter with his energy off the bench. It looked like it took some time for him to figure out that he is an integral part of the JackJumpers culture.

Averaging just over 10 points per game, McVeigh has been super consistent as of late and is taking a lot of the scoring pressure of their import backcourt. He’s been a revelation in helping to build the MyState Bank Arena fortress that is the JackJumpers home and is sure to be a fan favourite for a long time. Whenever McVeigh is up and about, smiling from ear to ear, it seems good times follow.

  1. Jo Lual-Acuil
  2. Xavier Cooks
  3. Yanni Wetzell
  4. Keanu Pinder
  5. Jack McVeigh

 

Best Sixth Man

There’s been a lot of talk and hype around him recently, but it’s all for good reason. Shea Ili is undoubtably one of the must underrated players in the league, and he is a huge reason for Melbourne United’s success.

Ever since he found confidence in his outside shooting, he has completely transformed his game. For those who have followed him throughout his career, aren’t at all shocked by his performances in NBL22. However, I think it’s been his most impactful season to date, with his ability to put up points on one end and change the game on the other.

Ili is averaging a career high in assists and steals per game whilst shooting at an all-time best 46%.

The 29-year-old seems unbothered at all times, just playing hard every single possession. Ili was instrumental in United’s last championship, and finds himself every bit of the X factor they need this season.

  1. Shea Ili
  2. Xavier Rathan-Mayes
  3. Kyle Adnam
  4. Clint Steindl
  5. Ariel Hukporti

 

Rookie of the Year

It’s been a tough season for the Adelaide 36ers, full of different struggles with flashes of potential. Yet through those moments, a silver lining has emerged. The young prospect of Kai Sotto continues to show glimpses of his bright future.

With the injury to Isaac Humphries, Sotto’s minutes have gradually increased, as has his production. 14 points and seven rebounds in 20 minutes of action has Sotto playing with a lot of confidence right now. Yes, he still has plenty of room to grow and learn, but basketball fans are starting to see those signs that he could be a very good player, once he puts it all together.  

  1. Luke Travers
  2. Bul Kuol
  3. Izayah Le’afa
  4. Mason Peatling
  5. Kai Sotto

 

Coach of the Year

No, I’m not just jumping onto the media hype and bandwagon of Scott Roth and the JackJumpers. In fact, I’ve noted in the previous editions of this piece, just how incredible Scott Roth’s journey has been this season. From a tough first few rounds, Roth and the JackJumpers have completely changed the way they go about things, and they’re reaping the benefits.

Culture starts from the top and it’s clear that everyone within that organization has bought into what Roth has created. Tough, energetic and feisty play on the court that shows trust and respect to every single person who is part of it. To continue to play the way they are, without their defensive figurehead in Will Magnay, is a true testament to the toughness that they epitomise.

I feel for any new franchise that is next to join the league, because the South East Melbourne Phoenix set a pretty high bar in their first two seasons, and now the JackJumpers have raised it!

  1. Scott Roth
  2. Dean Vickerman
  3. Scott Morrison
  4. Chase Buford
  5. Simon Mitchell

 

The views on this page are those of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBL, its Clubs or partners.

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